Chicago Suburb to Pay Black Residents $25,000 in Landmark Vote for Reparations

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Bryan Dozier/Shutterstock (11759572ao)Demonstrators with the Reparationist Collective gather at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.
Bryan Dozier/Shutterstock / Bryan Dozier/Shutterstock

The Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois made history Monday by becoming the first U.S. city to approve reparations to Black residents for discriminatory practices as well as the lingering effects of slavery.

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In an 8-1 vote, the Evanston City Council said it would initially distribute $400,000 to eligible Black households, NBC News reported on Tuesday. Each qualifying household would get a $25,000 grant for home repairs or down payments.

Mortgage assistance will also be made available for Black residents, according to The Washington Post – primarily residents who can show they are direct descendants of individuals who lived in the city between 1919 and 1969 and suffered from such discrimination. Black residents make up about 16 percent of Evanston’s population of 75,000.

“Right now the whole world is looking at Evanston, Illinois. This is a moment like none other that we’ve ever seen, and it’s a good moment,” said Ron Daniels, president of the National African American Reparations Commission.

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The housing funds are part of a $10 million package approved for continued reparations programs. These will be funded through a combination of donations and revenue from a 3% tax on the sale of recreational marijuana.

Robin Rue Simmons, an Evanston city alderman who proposed the program, said groups that back reparations have offered pro-bono legal assistance in case the program is challenged in court.

As NBC News noted, hundreds of communities and organizations nationwide are considering providing reparations to Black people, including the state of California as well as cities such as Amherst, Massachusetts; Providence, Rhode Island; Asheville, North Carolina; and Iowa City, Iowa. Other organizations that back reparations include the Episcopal Church and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

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In addition, President Joe Biden has voiced support for creating a federal commission to study Black reparations, a proposal that has been mulled for decades without getting anywhere.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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